Here Mark Allanson, MD at electrical wholesalers BED (Corby) Ltd (centre) part of the ANEW buying group, talks about their apprenticeship journey and gives advice for managers thinking of taking on an apprentice.
“We had hired a couple of apprentices previously which didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, but we found Charlotte Ahearn (above right) and that’s where we got lucky and it all changed. Charlotte is a great member of the team. In fact, it was through Charlotte that we found our second apprentice, the equally brilliant Ella Beesley (above left).
“Times change and both Charlotte and Ella have brought a fresh new energy to our business – they are capable of so much and are very quick workers – which is fantastic,” continues Mark, “My advice to anyone taking on an apprentice is to have a plan. Managers need to be organised and prepared to spend time with the apprentice. If you drop an apprentice into a branch with no plan in place and expect them to be able to get on with it, it won’t happen.
“Apprentices need attention, especially if this is their first job, which may include emotional support. It goes with the territory, and you need to be prepared for that. Both Charlotte and Ella are very good at completing tasks quickly – it’s a valuable skill that they pick up at school – but you must be ready because no sooner have you given them one task they’ve completed it and are ready for the next.”
BED’s second apprentice Ella, 18, has just completed her Level 2 apprenticeship in Business and Administration through the EDA service, delivered by partners EDA Apprenticeships Plus, and now works for Mark at BED’s Head Office as a Project Coordinator.
Here she explains how her role has evolved:
“Charlotte was a few years ahead of me at school. When I decided to leave after GCSEs to look for an apprenticeship, I changed my Facebook status and she got in touch. I came in for an interview and got the job.
“When I first started at BED I was helping around the office, working on uniform ordering and helping to manage our fleet of vehicles but I wasn’t always busy, I didn’t have much responsibility and the role lacked direction. That’s when I went to work for Mark and everything changed for the better.
“Mark saw my potential. Now I really enjoy my job and I feel much more involved in the running of the business. My job is varied, from helping to launch new branches to organising our corporate hospitality events. We take our customers to events such as Newmarket Races and golf days. It’s my job to pull it all together. I’m also leading BED’s charity fundraising events as well as currently organising BED’s annual overseas trip for staff which is in Ibiza this year.
“This is a friendly sector to work in, there’s always something going on and I like meeting our customers. They come in for a coffee and like to chat.”
What advice does Ella have for others who may be thinking about an apprenticeship in the wholesale sector?
“I’d say, it’s not about the industry you are going into so much as the role you are taking on. Be brave, give it a go. I didn’t know anything about wholesaling before I joined but as well as considering moving on to my Level 3 Business and Administration Apprenticeship, I am also interested in exploring lighting design in the future. I genuinely love my job and not everyone can say that.”